“Congratulations man, you are the real deal!” Bob’s voice rang as he shook Emenike’s hand and entered the house. Following him were Ejike and Jasper.
“Mehn, Emenike, you really scored a point with the first o, but your wife really, really beat you to it this time. She really gave you a ‘close line,’ smackdown, knockout…”
“Ahn ahn, nna ehn, Jasper calm down na,” Emenike interrupted him, “you were not there when this match was fought so you can’t say that.” I just decided to have pity on her so that she will not feel defeated by my prowess.” He concluded with a wink that made him feel victorious. The four broke into a roaring laughter as they made for Emenike’s bedroom. They had been friends way back in the Federal University of Technology Owerri and after graduation, they all happened to settle down in Owerri. They were all married men, except Jasper who, as they always said it, “still wanted to play ‘oringo.'”
Emenike’s wife had delivered a baby girl, their second child. The first was a boy, Emmanuel. Today was her naming ceremony and as was their ritual, they had come to celebrate with him.
“So what have you decided to call her?” Jasper started again as they all stood admiring the bundle of Joy in Priscilla’s hand. She sat on the bed breastfeeding the baby. The room had ‘that alluring baby smell,’ as Bob had put it when they entered.
“Guess,” Emenike replied. “Hmmm, Chidimma,” Ejike cut in with a smile as if he was sure his guess was correct.
“No no no! You failed it like that MTH 413 you told us about.” They all burst into laughter. Emenike walked towards his wife, kissed her lips and said “Sweetie, tell them her name.”
“Her name is Sharon Chinenyendu.” Priscilla was soft spoken. Her voice was a miracle. Emenike always bragged about her endowments- “front and back, my Priscii is loaded!”
The three friends dropped envelopes on the bed, asking Priscilla to receive them as gifts for Chinenyendu. That done, they walked to the living room.
“So what inspired Chinenyendu?” Jasper again!
“Well, my mother lived long before her death. It is my way of acknowledging that God gives life.”
The living room was swarming with people, everyone congratulating Emenike. He was known to be a gentle and responsible man. They had also come to celebrate with him.
A few minutes passed, and the event began. Prayer. Song. Dance. The whole place was in a frenzy. There was so much to eat and drink and friends continued to troop in and out. The party lasted till 7pm, when the music stopped. Ejike, Bob and Jasper hugged Emenike for the umpteenth time, bade him farewell and left for their homes. The house that was once bubbly and lively was now calm and quiet. Priscilla was in the bathroom, Susan, her maid was in the kitchen washing the much that she could. Emenike was outside with the DJ who played at the party. He was settling the payment for his service. As soon as the DJ received the money and turned to leave, a loud scream burst out of Emenike’s house. It was Priscii.
He ran violently into the house, knocking over the glass table in the living room and into the bedroom. Priscilla was screaming and shouting. “What is it? What is it?” He asked in a mixture of fear and rage. Priscilla did not answer him, she only kept on wailing. “What is it, what is the problem? Talk to me!”
It was then he saw it, the lifeless body of the tender baby sprawled on the bed. Chinenyendu was dead.
Emenike put his hand over his head, his back against the wall and slowly slid down till the ground received his buttocks. Hot tears simmered his eyes and burnt his cheeks as they flowed unabated. They had been warned, but they were defiant. This was just the beginning of the ‘grim likelihoods and unpredictable chances’ they were to expect, as the Doctor had put it.
Emenike was AS; Priscilla was AS; Emmanuel was AS; Chinenyendu was SS. She didn’t have much time.